Comments on: Are you worried about the right thing? http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5228 This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6 By: Andy http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5228/comment-page-1#comment-12787 Fri, 02 Apr 2010 13:27:12 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/?p=5228#comment-12787 One thing we sabermetric types all need to remember is that the mentality of the managers and players enters into the equation here, and quite significantly at that. It's easy to look at past games and say when the closer should have been used. In practice, however, the manager can't possibly know when best to warm up his closer--for the 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th. Warmup pitches put strain on pitchers, and some guys such as Mariano Rivera, must be used when they warm up. He either comes into the game immediately or ends up throwing on the side and then is done for the night. Players' success also depends in large part on them understanding and preparing for their roles. We stat guys like to think it shouldn't matter, but we know that the stat show that it DOES matter. Some pitchers consistently do better starting an inning clean instead of coming in with runners on. Some guys do better when the score is close than when it isn't. My point is that you can't expect a pitcher to do optimally when his role is less well-defined--it goes against human nature. There comes a point when the optimal usage of pitchers based purely on statistics breaks down in the face of the realities of managing and psychology.

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By: Friday Links (2 Apr 10) – Ducksnorts http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5228/comment-page-1#comment-12786 Fri, 02 Apr 2010 13:26:27 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/?p=5228#comment-12786 [...] Are you worried about the right thing? (Baseball Reference). Andy serves up some good food for thought: “…teams with lousy relievers allow more runs when it counts. The difference isn’t huge, but it’s a real trend. The middle relief guys probably make the difference of 3-5 wins per year–doesn’t sound like a lot, but it could be the difference between your team winning 87 games and going home and winning 92 games and going to the playoffs as the wild card.” [...]

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By: Andy http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5228/comment-page-1#comment-12774 Fri, 02 Apr 2010 10:39:42 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/?p=5228#comment-12774 I don't think you've understood JT's point quite correctly. There aren't enough good pitchers in baseball to have a star at every position on the staff. Some teams might achieve that by overspending and we've seen the Yankees try to do it. They have had some good #8 and #9 hitters in recent years and they had excellent relievers during their dominance of the late 1990s. But there simply aren't enough good pitchers for all teams to have good middle relief. Remember my original point, though. The middle relief guys are always the worst on the team. Managers put their better players on the starting staff or as closers or setup guys. This doesn't mean the MRs are "scrubs", just the worst on the team.

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By: BSK http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5228/comment-page-1#comment-12773 Fri, 02 Apr 2010 10:19:44 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/?p=5228#comment-12773 Twisto-

I think that's because the mindset is to just dump a scrub there. Why not just develop/sign several top setup men, if the value is there? That's like saying your #8 hitter has to be a scrub, because if he was a 40HR guy he'd be your #3 or 4 hitter. Well, if you have 6 40HR guys, wouldn't that be more desirable? Not necessarily do-able, but it's foolish to concede a roster spot to a sucky guy just because that's what logic dictates if you have the means and ability to do more with it.

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By: Johnny Twisto http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5228/comment-page-1#comment-12765 Fri, 02 Apr 2010 05:24:42 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/?p=5228#comment-12765 I don't think there really is such a thing as a top-notch MR. Anyone who performs well in that role gets "promoted" to a setup role, or maybe to the starting rotation.

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By: BSK http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5228/comment-page-1#comment-12759 Fri, 02 Apr 2010 01:08:29 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/?p=5228#comment-12759 I think the point is also about a given team's worst relievers. If you throw washed up vets, unprepared rooks, or career scrubs (Quad-A guys) in that role, then you're going to have some bad middle innings. What would happen if a team had 2 or 3 of those guys on a roster? If your "worst" pitcher is significantly better than everyone else's worst, you gain a big advantage. And, while we've seen our share of over-inflated reliever contracts AND we know there is a certain volatility to performance, it certainly would seem to behoove a team to invest money into several top-notch MRs than one overhyped closer.

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By: Johnny Twisto http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5228/comment-page-1#comment-12749 Thu, 01 Apr 2010 22:12:07 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/?p=5228#comment-12749 Yes, closers probably could be used more efficiently, but as David points out they do still pitch the most important situations overall (as measured by LI), and their aLIs are not much different than top relievers of the Fireman Era. Now, part of this may be because if Gossage entered a sticky situation in the 7th and got out of it, he most likely would finish the game, even if his team then went up by 5 runs. This lowers his aLI. Modern 1-inning relievers don't have as much opportunity to face high- and low-pressure situations in the same game. Comparing the LI only at the point they entered the game might be more instructive here. I don't _think_ we can do that on B-R, but you can compare the number of games in which a reliever entered "high," "medium," and "low" leverage situations.

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By: Charles Saeger http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5228/comment-page-1#comment-12746 Thu, 01 Apr 2010 21:22:49 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/?p=5228#comment-12746 You know, questions like "Who was the guy who most often pitched the sixth for the 2003 Braves?" would be easily answered if there were a reliever depth chart, akin to the ones for the lineups. Sean would remember them from the old BBBA, but if you want to see which relievers came on in the seventh when leading by one, you could look.

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By: DavidRF http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5228/comment-page-1#comment-12744 Thu, 01 Apr 2010 21:07:17 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/?p=5228#comment-12744 There is an "aLI" stat (Average Leverage Index) which you can sort by on the Pitching Win Probability page. The general trend seems to be the closers are at the top, then the setup men, then the starters, then the mop-up guys. There's a lot of names on the list, but spot checking a couple of my favorite teams verifies this trend (I think).

My thinking is that these mop-up situations are generally in the middle innings. The worst relievers on the roster have to pitch at some point or the better relievers will get worn out. I think it makes sense that these bad pitchers are generally used in this role.

I do agree with your main point that key make-or-break situations can occur as early as the 6th inning and its a shame when a team trots out someone like Bobby Keppel for those.

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By: Rich http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/5228/comment-page-1#comment-12742 Thu, 01 Apr 2010 20:50:37 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/?p=5228#comment-12742 The problem is two-fold, I think.

Money and laziness.

It's much easier for a manager to only use the closer in 'save' situations cause it's easier to explain why he didn't use him in a more crucial part of the game.

The other issue is now relievers get big contracts based on saves, so the closers and their agents only want them pitching in save situations. Plus pitching in the 9th (esp on the road) artificially lowers one's ERA since if you can't give up more than the winning run.

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